A little history…
In March of 1953, some 60 people gathered in Hyde Park’s Town Hall to form a boating club. The organizers of the meeting were Vic Blair, Ken Wager, George Brown, and Ben Schamberg. The property was rented for the first three years with the option to buy. George Brown was elected the first Commodore and by the end of the first year, the Club had expanded to 125 members.
Work began to put the place in order, for it had no lights, no toilet, and no drinking water. The members worked nights and weekends, more work than boating. By the end of the first season, they had gas lights with bottled gas providing the fuel.
The coming year, they bought a portable generator which pumped river water to a big tank near the roof. There was still no heat in the building. Outside, the men improved the property by trimming bushes, building floats and places to anchor them. Dances, clambakes, and similar fund-raising activities financed their purchases of equipment and materials. By the end of the second season, the group was functioning as a boat club.
In 1955, the wives of some of the members formed an Auxiliary with Mrs. Ben Schamberg as their first President.
In January 1956, the property was purchased for $5,000.
On December 14, 1957, the historical building burnt to the ground despite the efforts of the local firefighters and Commodore James Bowen vowed to rebuild.
The new clubhouse was rebuilt by Hess of Staatsburg. The cost, approximately $50,000, included a new fireplace, a bar, an updated kitchen, and a covered porch. An Open House celebration, under Commodore Clayton Johnson, was publicly held on September 20. 1958, which included dinner, square dancing, and a performance by the Relyea Water-Ski Team of Highland, New York.
With the popularity of boating growing each year, new float facilities were built and picnic areas were improved. However, enjoyment of the new clubhouse and grounds was short lived. A fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed the clubhouse during the night of June 13, 1960 causing about $50,000 in damages.
A scheduled Open House celebration for the public was held June 17-18, 1960 despite the lack of a clubhouse. A “portion” dinner was served by the Ladies Auxiliary with door prizes, free boat rides, and “Dancing Under the Stars” on the only thing remaining after the fire, the cleaned up cement floor.
Commodore Howell Robinson appointed both a Fundraising and a Building Committee and plans were underway to rebuild a “fireproof”, all metal and cement block building.
On June 15, 1962, Rogers Point held yet another Open House to celebrate its newest clubhouse which featured free boat rides, horseshoe pitching contests, and a variety of games. A portion dinner was served with dancing until 1:00 AM with music by the Fred Kimlin’s Orchestra.
On October 16, 1962, Rogers marked their 10 year anniversary with a dance party with music by the Rhythm Rockers.
To date, Rogers Point continues the founding fathers’ legacy by keeping the club expenses covered by fundraising events and work performed by its members.
Rogers Point is named after Colonel Archibald Rogers, who was the original developer of the point. Born in 1852, he was raised in Hyde Park in a modest home on Main Street. He attended Yale University and in 1880 had the good sense to marry an extremely wealthy woman from Pennsylvania, Anne Coleman. Starting in 1883, he pieced together a dozen farms into an 899 acre estate, which he called Crumwold. Rogers joined the Seawanhaka Yacht Club of Oyster Bay, Long Island in 1881 and in 1883 began building docks at Rogers Point so that he could sail up the Hudson in his 70 foot cutter, “Bedouin”, to his growing estate. “Bedouin” won several races, but also suffered a near-disaster when her mast buckled.
Starting in about 1902, Colonel Rogers joined the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club and made his boathouse available to other members. An ice yacht looks like a giant ice skate with a sail. In Colonel Rogers’ time, before large ice breakers kept the river open for shipping in winter, the river would usually freeze solid shore to shore. Ice yachtsmen could actually race railroad trains on the east shore of the Hudson. Colonel Rogers and others would race the “Empire State Express” and, invariably, the ice yacht would be the winner, to the delight of the train passengers.
When ice boat racing prevailed on the Hudson River, the “Jack Frost”, a world famous, trophy-winning boat was kept by Colonel Rogers in his boathouse on the Point. A legend and landmark of more than 50 years was that edifice, when it was finally purchased by the Rogers Point Boating Association.
Coast Guard Headquarters during WWII:
Whenever President Roosevelt was in Hyde Park, a Coast Guard cutter (actually John Hay “Jock” Whitney’s old yacht, the “Aphrodite”, which had been converted to military use) would patrol the Hudson River from a point ten miles south of the President’s property up to Rhinecliff, which was about ten miles north of Hyde Park. During these times, the cutter would use the dock at Rogers Point, which of course, was part of “Camp Rogers”. When the President wasn’t around, the cutter patrolled New York Harbor.